opera + Theatre
Luke has composed 6 operas and is currently working on his 7th (premiere 2021 UK), they have been performed at Glyndebourne, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Perth International Arts Festival and the Vaults Festival.
Ned Kelly (chamber opera) 2017/2018
The latest opera by Luke Styles, to a libretto by Peter Goldsworthy. Premiered at the 2019 Perth Festival to sold out crowds, commissioned by Lost and Found Opera. Conductor: Chris van Tuinen. Director: Janice Muller. Cast: Samuel Dundas, Fiona Campbell, Adrian Tamburini, Matt Reuben James Ward, Robert MacFarlane, Pia Harris, Community Chorus. Orchestra: West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
Ned Kelly weaves together the common myth with lesser known extraordinary facts about the politics, loves and quirks of Australia’s legendary bushranger. Cross dressing, pig stealing, bee keeping, opium smoking, devout republican supporting, armour wearing loyal family men — that’s just part of the story of the notorious Kelly gang.
Cast: Soloists (soprano, mezzo-soprano, 2 tenors, baritone, bass-baritone), Chorus (of community members). Instrumentation: flute1, flute2/piccolo, clarinet1 in Bb/clarinet in A, clarinet2 in Bb/bass clarinet, percussion (3 players), violin1, violin2, viola, cello1, cello2, double bass1, double bass2 (all strings are 1 player per part), folk band (flexible instrumentation). Duration: 90 min.
Macbeth immediately conjures atmospheric, violent and supernatural images and sounds in the mind. This text, which is ingrained in our cultural fabric, felt like the ideal choice for the basis of an opera at this moment in my compositional life. I wanted to tell a story, this was key. I wanted that story to be larger than life, perhaps even un-imaginable for 'normal' human beings to take part in, hence the need for opera singers and an orchestra. I feel a deep affinity with Shakespeare's writing, which I have used previously in my work Vanity for Glyndebourne in 2013. Shakespeare's words immediately suggested a music to me, and this text in particular provided a narrative that allowed my music to go darker and more sensual than ever before. Together with librettist and director Ted Huffman, we crafted, out of Shakespeare's play, our own version of the tale that could take place as an uninterrupted performance of 75 minutes. BUY the SCORE
Cast: Soloists (5 tenors, baritone, 4 bass-baritones, young tenor/baritone, treble). Instrumentation: flute/piccolo, oboe, clarinet in B flat/bass clarinet, trumpet in B flat, trombone, percussion (2 players), harp, piano, violin, cello, double bass. Duration: 75 min.
In the afterlife aborted fetuses gather for a laugh and a shot of embryotic fluid at the ‘Petri Dish’, legendary cabaret bar for the unborn. Protagonist, Ziggy, is topping the bill, proving once and for all that fetuses feel, dream, walk, talk… and boy, can they sing! Duration 1hr. BUY the SCORE/PARTS
Cast: Mezzo Soprano, Contralto, Tenor, Baritone Band: Oboe, Cello, Percussion, Piano
Tycho's Dream (youth opera) 2014
Tycho’s Dream has had a rich and diverse development. When it was first suggested that I might like to write a new youth opera for Glyndebourne, my mind immediately leapt to science fiction, as a genre that I thought would excite the young participants and that fitted my idea of opera working best with fantastical subject matter. I knew that Benjamin Britten had also investigated the idea of a sci-fi community opera, called “Tyco the Vegan”, but never realised the project. The figure of the very real astronomer Tycho Brahe proved fascinating, so I took Tycho along with a range of other crazy fictional ideas to a development week with the young people. We brainstormed, improvised and experimented with my ideas around Tycho and sci-fi, as well as the ideas and imagination of the participants. All of these elements were then filtered through the mind of Peter Cant, the librettist, to create the story that is Tycho’s Dream.
The music of Tycho’s Dream is composed very much for the young people performing it. Strange noises, chain-gang songs and hymns all take flight through the voices of the young performers, with whom I had the chance to workshop the music throughout the year. Renaissance sound worlds combine with mining sounds and a rich percussion and wind section to create the fictional and fantastical worlds on the moon and beyond.
Cast: Youth Chorus 8-19 year olds, soprano, baritone. Instrumentation: Mixed ensemble of professionals and young musicians (3 flutes (1st doubling piccolo), 3 clarinets in B flat (3rd doubling bass clarinet ion B flat), bassoon, percussion (3 players), piano/harpsichord/celesta). Duration: 60 min. BUY the SCORE
The music for Wakening Shadow is a mixture of Styles and Britten, to form one unified piece. Three of Britten's Canticles make up roughly one third of the piece and my original music the other two thirds. In orchestrating the Britten Canticles (which are originally for voice(s) and one instrument - piano or harp) I have created continuity between my musical world and Britten's using common orchestral colours to take the listener on a seamless journey through each of the 7 scenes.
Themes of light and darkness emerge in the music and these often align themselves with the changing view of God and Humanity. Voices sing in trios, quartets and choral formation to show a untied identity. This is set in contrast with expressive passages of solo vocal writing that allow us to see individual characters emerge out of the universal themes that purvey Wakening Shadow. BUY the SCORE
Cast: 2 Sopranos, mezzo soprano, counter tenor, 3 tenors, baritone, bass baritone. Instrumentation: flute (doubling piccolo/alto flute), oboe (doubling cor anglais), clarinet in Bb (doubling bass clarinet), horn in F, trumpet in Bb, trombone, percussion, harp, piano, strings. Duration: 64 min.
Lovers Walk (youth opera) 2012
Lovers Walk is about first relationships. How many of these in reality last? Not many, but they are formative experiences in our teenage years or our early twenties. Lovers Walk addresses four different first relationships, the varying degrees of success and failure of these relationships, the joys and the problems that they contain. In this exploration the music of Lovers Walk is at times joyous, fought, sad and blissful.
The four relationships of Lovers Walk are set in different time periods but united by a common setting, the Lovers Walk (courting path) in a Brighton park. Our four couples all walk this path and all walk the complexities of first relationships. The music of these couples amplifies their differences but also unites them when they are experiencing common first relationship issues. After all how different is love in 1890 and 2060? This is the world of Lovers Walk.
Lovers Walk was my first full chamber opera as Young Composer in Residence at Glyndebourne, and I was delighted that it can be for the youth company. To buy the score please contact the composer via email@example.com
Composer: Luke Styles Librettist: Stephen Plaice
Cast: 9 young people and youth chorus. Instrumentation: Clarinets, Trumpets, Cello, Piano. Duration: 1hr
Handspun (circus) 2012
Handspun was created together with the aerialist Ilona Jantti for the Royal Opera House in 2012. Since it’s London premiere the piece has gone on to performances around the world. BUY the SCORE/PART
Instrumentation: Cello. Duration: 25min
The Girls Who Wished to Marry the Stars (dance) 2013
This theatrical new work (described as a mini dance opera) by Luke Styles features experimental vocal trio Juice and Trish Clowes' jazz/classical ensemble Tangent, performing alongside three live dancers. Blurring the boundaries between dancer and musician, this evocative piece retells a Native Canadian folk tale in a playful, highly dynamic way. BUY the SCORE/PARTS
Commissioned by Juice as part of the New Music Biennial (PRS for Music Foundation). Premiered 13.02.14 LICA (Lancaster). Performed at the Village Underground, London as part of Emulsion III 29th May 2014. Performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London 6th July 2014. Performed at the Commonwealth Games Glasgow, 2nd August 2014.
Instrumentation: Vocal trio (SSA), cello, saxophone, electric guitar, double bass, drum kit. Duration: 12 min.
Passacaille (dance) 2016
In part based on a Passacaille by Handle. Commissioned by Boughton House. Premiere 17th July 2016 at Boughton House England. To buy the score please contact the composer via firstname.lastname@example.org
Instrumentation: Baroque Ensemble; Violin, Oboe, Harpsichord, Counter-Tenor. Cast: Baroque Dancers. Duration: 10mins
The Lodger (silent film) 2011
Silent film score for The Lodger by Alfred Hitchcock. Commissioned by the Karlsruhe Film Week. Premiered Schauburg Cinema, Karlsruhe, Germany on the 21st May 2011 by Luke Styles (elec) and Florian Steiniger (Piano). 6.11.16 Schauburg Cinema, Karlsruhe, Germany. To buy the score please contact the composer via email@example.com
Instrumentation: Piano and Electronics. Duration: 90min
Play after Beckett (actor and musicians) 2006-2010
Four duos for one actor and one musician. To buy the score please contact the composer via firstname.lastname@example.org
You Have a Bat: actor and percussion. On a Bench: actor and cello. You Have a Ball: actor and horn. At a Bench: actor and oboe.
Entr'acte (silent film) 2010
Silent film score for Entr’acte by René Clair from 1924 embodies the Dadaism and Absurdism in the air at the time. This new score makes subtle reference to Erik Satie, the composer of the films original music, but attempts to look at the film afresh. Images have an aesthetic flow without subservience to narrative. The subjectivity of the images and the lack of dialogue/text, allows an immense space for a musical dialectic to take place. Motives and harmony are set in motion to create a new context and framing of the images, propelling both towards their hectic conclusion, whilst still adhering to the dada/absurdist spirit of the film. To buy the score please contact the composer via email@example.com
Instrumentation 1: Fl, Sax, Pn, Perc. Instrumentation 2: Fl, Cl, Pn, Perc. Duration: 20min
Erdgeist (silent film) 2008
Silent film score for Erdgeist by L.Jessner 1923. Premiered at the 2009 Stummfilmtage Karlsruhe at the ZKM 23rd and 24th Jan 2009. To buy the score please contact the composer via firstname.lastname@example.org
Instrumentation: String Quartet. Duration: 60min